Cheap Wireless Plan + Budget Phone = Back To School Win

disclaimerMy poor 10yo. She’s been lobbying for a few years now to join the big kids club and have a gadget, a device, a cellphone of her own. She’s only in 5th grade (well, as soon as school starts up again) but everyone else in the family not only has a mobile device, but seems to use it far more often than is healthy and rational. Still, without a cheap wireless plan and, frankly, cheap cellphone, it just doesn’t make sense. And even then, I’m still waffling on whether a 5th grader really needs a cellphone.

What almost pushes me over the edge is seeing how valuable it’s been in our two household family for the older children to be in touch with “the other parent”: when they’re with their Mom, they’re frequently texting me, and when they’re with me, they frequently tell me that it’s their Mom they’re texting and that’s why they need to hold on to their phone at that moment. Now I realize that it’s entirely possible it’s someone else who they’re in touch with and that’s a cover, but still, even if it’s only true 50% of the time, that’s still a great benefit for them since we aren’t all under the same roof.

I mean, here’s what my daughter is hoping will happen on that first day of school. She opens her lunchbox and…

back to school with a new alcatel one touch evolve cellphone from walmart

But unlimited talk, text and data plans are typically darn expensive, $60 or more per month, and that adds up. Does my daughter really need her own cellphone so badly that it’s worth $2-3/day for that capability, and if so, what phones are available that are actually decent but not a lot of money? $199 or more for a fancy device that’s likely going to get lost or broken in the first month or two is not a smart investment to me.

Enter the Alcatel One Touch Evolve, a smartphone with a fancy touch screen interface designed specifically for the budget market and recently “rolled back” at the local Walmart from $79 to a ridiculously inexpensive $29. That’s unlocked, no contract. Just a walk out of Walmart with the phone price. Now you will need to pick up a SIM card so that the phone has actual phone functionality, but compared to the no-contract prices of things like Samsung Galaxy S5 and Apple iPhone 5s devices? It’s less than the sales tax on those devices!

Amusingly, when I popped into the local Walmart to pick one of these Evolve units up, they were busy doing inventory, so it was more confusing than usual to find what I wanted:

walmart smartphone cell phone display, inventory in progress

It does seem like they should be able to do things a bit more subtly from a customer experience perspective, but with the help of one of their friendly employees, we found the phone (second from the left, marked DNI, which I think means “Do Not Inventory”) and I was out of the shop a minute or two later.

Here’s a closeup of the Alcatel One Touch Evolve, btw, with K-, my 10yo, serving as the lovely hand model:

alcatel one touch evolve

A very nice, quite capable Android phone, ready to rumble.

In fact, the first thing K- did once I let her test it out was use it as a camera. My kids love camera phones!

new wallpaper one touch evolve smartphone cellphone camera

Turns out that Walmart offers its own cellular program, the Walmart Family Mobile plan that has no contract, no coverage area nonsense and doesn’t even require a credit check for you to get started. And the price? WFM is a remarkable $34.88/mo for unlimited talk, text and data, and it’s guaranteed to remain at that price for the life of your service plan. Mind boggling, really. Heck, WFM is even on Twitter as @FamilyMobile so you can ask ’em questions directly.

So it really is a great back to school addition to everything else you need to buy at Walmart, the local office supply store and the supermarket. Not to mention remembering the non-stop wrestling match with school lunches, but that’s another story entirely!

And will K- end up toting the One Touch Evolve to school when it starts up in a few weeks? The jury is still out on that decision. Middle school seems like a very logical milestone for this switch. But we’ll have to see…

How about you? How old are your kids and how many of them have their own cellphones? At what age did they get them?

#Phones4School #CollectiveBias

2 comments on “Cheap Wireless Plan + Budget Phone = Back To School Win

  1. My kids are too young for smart phones, but can’t imagine how much pressure teens face today when all their pals have one and they don’t. These phones are so great in so many ways, but are youngsters prepared for the responsibility? I dread seeing a cracked phone screen more than once in my life thanks to my boys!

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